Markets

European Markets Close Higher as Eurozone Economic Output Expansion Holds Steady

European markets closed higher on Wednesday after broadly positive data was published on eurozone purchasing activity.

Markit Economics said that the rate of expansion in eurozone economic output in April held broadly steady at March's 11-month high, highlighted by the final Markit Eurozone PMI Composite Output Index posting 53.9, little-changed from 54.0 in March and an improvement on the slowdown signalled by the earlier flash estimate of 53.5.

"Economic activity continued to expand in both the manufacturing and service sectors, with rates of growth holding broadly stable in both cases," Markit Economics said. "The pace of increase at service providers remained slightly ahead of that at manufacturers."

Spain stood out, with its rate of output expansion accelerating to the fastest since November 2006 -a 101-month record- and growth of new business at a near 15-year high. Germany also reported a solid increase in economic activity in April, but at a slower pace of expansion than in the prior month. French output expanded for the third consecutive month in April.

Elsewhere in Europe, investors were watching closely as the UK prepared to vote on Thursday for it's next Prime Minister. The country has been governed by a conservative-liberal democratic coalition for the past four years following a hung parliament in 2010 - a situation where no political party is able to win enough votes for an outright majority.

In company news, British supermarket operator J Sainsbury closed down 3.2%. In its preliminary results for the 52 weeks to 14 March 2015, J Sainsbury reported underlying group sales fell 0.9% to GBP26.12 billion ($39.78 billion), retail sales fell 0.2% and like-for-like sales were down 1.9%.

The FTSE 100 closed up 0.09%, the DAX added 0.20% and the CAC-40 closed up 0.15%.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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